Inline Edit: empty fields and minimum widths

Daphne Ogle daphne at
Wed Jul 9 22:17:29 UTC 2008

Hey Gary,

Good point -- the last thing we want to do is get caught up on an edge  
case.   I think we do have some real examples of this need though.   
Check out this storyboard,

The item is initially not assigned/constrained to a group so the field  
is left blank.  The blankness is information.  The alternative is to  
have text in the space when the field is null but many times that  
becomes a lot of noise.  Or in the lightbox example, what if someone  
just didn't use the description field.  Would they want a message "to  
enter description" under every image?   What do you think?

The choice of whether or not to use text to describe null or leave it  
blank will actually be left to the application that is implementing  
the component.  But I do think we want to make it possible to leave it  
blank and give design advice in the design pattern about the right  
thing to do.

I guess in this particular example (storyboard from above), the field  
could be the size of the drop down.


On Jul 7, 2008, at 10:50 AM, Gary Thompson wrote:

> Do we have a context of use where the user is editing "nothing"?  It
> seems that all of the comparative analysis and contexts of use in the
> design of inline edit point to having something already existing to  
> edit.
> If the condition exists where the user has not yet entered  
> information,
> then it should probably be populated with a default message like  
> "Click
> here to enter description" (from the lightbox collection view).  This
> also becomes the cue to the user that they can inline edit said  
> information.
> Then the existing information (whether user entered or a default
> message) provides the "width" of the inline edit field.
> Gary
> Anastasia Cheetham wrote:
>> On 7-Jul-08, at 11:43 AM, Michael S Elledge wrote:
>>> How about using putting the input field in a CSS class containing
>>> the "inline" attribute?
>>> Anastasia Cheetham wrote:
>>>> The problem is this:
>>>> It seems you can't set a minimum width on <span> elements without
>>>> setting them to "display:block" (if anyone knows otherwise, please
>>>> correct me!!).
>> Mike, thanks for the suggestion! I just tried it out, and
>> unfortunately, it has the wrong effect. By forcing the display to be
>> 'inline' it actually imposes the "no minimum width allowed"  
>> behaviour,
>> so that even empty divs, which would have allowed a minimum width,
>> become invisible :-(
>> Michelle suggested a bit of a hack that would likely work, which is  
>> to
>> fill the 'empty' field with spaces. I'll investigate this option  
>> later
>> today (unless anyone thinks it's a bad idea...)
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Daphne Ogle
Senior Interaction Designer
University of California, Berkeley
Educational Technology Services
daphne at
cell (510)847-0308

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